Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hello Dolly!

One of the big surprises as we entered Meziadin PP was to view another six or so Lazy Daze motorhomes camped around one section of the lake. We hadn't seen anyone since our rally near Port Townsend on May 16-18 of about 30 Lazy Dazes from all over the Northwest. Eight would head for Alaska, five by ferry and three by road. The idea was to hook up somewhere along the Cassiar Highway, so we were thrilled to see our small group once again ... just in time for a celebration potluck.  The big hit for the evening were the tales and taste treats of baked Dolly Varden that were caught by Tony and cooked by Michelle.  Turned out that Tony hired a guide who was the local camp contractor for Meziadin PP and doubled as a fishing guide.  After an initial run to the end of the lake in a comfortable motorboat, Tony cast a spinning lure into a feeder stream and practically had a Dolly on the line within minutes, the largest going for nearly five pounds. All twelve of us dined on two of his keepers.


So what in the heck is a Dolly Varden?  Good question, as I had never even seen one before in my life much less caught one!  The good book says that "Dolly Varden Trout is a subspecies of anadromous fish in the salmon family and is technically a char."  OK?  Is it a trout...salmon...or char? Well, it's in the family of Salmonidae so it can't be all bad except that it loves to feed on salmon eggs. Yikes! It's a cannibal!  Sounds terrible except that many fish like to feed on salmon eggs and each other for that matter. And humans like to feed on them! They range from Puget Sound to Alaska in rivers, streams and lakes.  In the spring they tend to be olive green on their back and shade to white on the belly.  Then in the late summer towards spawning season they turn to a foxy red near the lower sides and belly....better to snare you with my dear!

The word was out that the action at Meziadin lake was hot!!!  Campers were coming in with motor boats, lots of gear, and tales to tell.  The challenge was on!  And by the second day I was in my solo Pack Canoe (33 pounds) scouting for feeder streams as potential fishing holes.  After watching others on the lake catch some big ones on lures in the morning, I paddled way over to the other side of the lake to three feeder streams and bingo! I hit the jackpot.  First cast produced a near three pounder. Second cast a near five pounder.

Not bad for the first that weighed in at two pounds ten ounces followed by one of four pounds eleven ounces.  The lucky charms were a Len Thompson Diamondback Spoon (yellow with red diamonds pattern) and a Blue Fox Super Vibrax spinning lure.  Our neighbor next to us who had fished these waters for over five years complimented me by saying that was the biggest he had seen during that whole period.  That is, until the next day, and he produced a real five pounder.  My short claim to Canadian angling fame!                                                  

Using a new, portable Coleman stove with grill and burner (and extra griddle), I had planned to cook lots of fish on the trip away from the motorhome kitchen to keep the fish odors from lingering in our rig for days.  It worked like a charm as we had filets for several days and David's fish chowder (with added shrimp, clams, and Dolly Varden) for the next week.  And fish left over for the freezer.  In fact, most of my fishing neighbors would save a week's worth of limits, and can the fish for the winter using a pressure cooker so that even the bones were tender.  Life is good here in the Far North!


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